AN EXPANSION to New Zealand Refining Company’s Marsden Point refinery on the east coast of the North Island was officially opened in March.

The NZ$365 million Te Mahi Hou project was four years in the making and is hoped to help the refinery lift production and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post said the expansion would also help increase the security of supply to New Zealanders who currently rely heavily on the refinery for much of their energy needs.

“We believe Te Mahi Hou is not only a major step for Refining NZ, but also for New Zealand and Northland,” he said.

“Globally, projects on this scale typically import specialist contractors, but this has been completed successfully drawing on the substantial Northland and New Zealand expertise available to the refinery at home.”

The new Continuous Catalyst Regeneration (CCR) plant will bring benefits for the business and the environment by reducing CO2 emissions and delivering higher production while reducing downtime.

Replacing an ageing platformer unit built in 1964, the CCR allows more effective regeneration of a catalyst process that breaks hydrocarbons into the precursors to petroleum.

This unit will require a maintenance shut down every six years instead of every 18 months, Refining NZ added.

Work on the unit was completed by New Zealand contractors on budget and ahead of time, which Refining NZ said meant the facility would be able to complete with rivals in the Asia Pacific that were twice its size.

Mr Post said the group would continue to explore beneficial growth opportunities – aiming to be more profitable while using less energy and reducing its CO2 footprint.

“Te Mahi Hou was a major commitment that we entered into four years ago,” he said.

“We are delighted to see it brought to such a successful outcome. It will continue to contribute to the Northland and national economies, and we are grateful for the huge input of energy and skill we have had from the Northland engineering community in making it possible.”

The refinery employs 500 people and produces about 50 per cent of the petrol New Zealand motorists use, 80% of the country’s diesel and 100% of its jet fuel and shipping oils.